Hanifin healthy-scratched but will remain in NHL

One player who has made a case to be the third overall pick is Noah Hanifin of Boston College, who has the uncanny ability to be either an offensive guy or a shutdown defenceman or both.

Three more NHL rookies should join Connor McDavid and play their 10th NHL game Thursday night and officially kick in their NHL contracts: Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Nikolaj Ehlers.

Noah Hanifin was on track to join that class Thursday, but the Carolina Hurricanes defenceman’s 10th game was pushed back slightly when he was healthy-scratched from Tuesday’s victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

That setback was eased Thursday, however, when coach Bill Peters told reporters that Hanifin will remain with the big club all season.

Hanifin, the 2015 fifth-overall pick, had spoke Wednesday about the one-game benching and his hopes to stick in the NHL this season.

“The coaching staff hasn’t said anything to me, and I don’t expect them to,” Hanifin told NHL.com about cracking the 10-game threshold.

“In this business you have to show up and perform every day, and that’s where my mindset is. I don’t think anyone is guaranteed anything, so for me, I’m just going to try and go out and keep playing hard.”

Though not yet trusted to kill penalties, the first blueliner selected in the ’15 draft has chipped in with a couple assists (both even-strength) and holds a minus-3 rating on a minus-9 team.

That Carolina defenceman James Wisniewski has been sidelined with an ACL injury makes Hanifin all the more valuable to the big club.

Peters said he wanted Hanifin to watch Tuesday’s game from the press box just to “freshen him up.”

If Carolina had decided the 18-year-old was not ready to make a permanent leap to the NHL, they can either send him to the American Hockey League (Charlotte) or the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Quebec Remparts selected Hanifin in the second round of the 2013 QMJHL entry draft.

“I know I can play at this level and now I’m experiencing it,” Hanifin said. “There are some things I still need to work on and that’s going to happen. I know I’ll make mistakes throughout the year because that’s how it is, since it’s such a hard league. But I know I can keep up with the speed and physicality of the game.

“When I have the puck, I feel pretty confident out there.”

Hanifin draws back into the lineup and play his ninth game Thursday against the New York Islanders. His 10th NHL game will take place as early as Friday.

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